Piano Rescue: 1907 Mehlin & Sons “Style J” 5′ upright


This free piano comes with caveats, but it’s too unusual and beautiful for me not to post. The pin block is deteriorating; it still has some useful life in it, however, as long as it’s not kept in a heated or air-conditioned space. It would be perfect in a barn, Summer cottage, unheated garage, or enclosed porch. I almost hate to recommend such an exquisite machine for a barn, but it certainly beats sending it to the dump, which is where it’s likely to end up otherwise. Barn dances, anyone???

This massive, 5′ walnut upright (Mehlin & Sons “Style J”; circa 1907) is truly one of the most unique pianos I’ve seen. Paul G. Mehlin was an acclaimed inventor and innovator of piano technology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This piano incorporates a number of his novel features, including an action frame with steel cross supports, felt muffler/practice rail (invented by Mehlin, and now standard on many uprights), integrated “touch regulator” to easily adjust key regulation (I wish every piano had this feature), a cool curved top which rolls back to let the sound out, and an impressive cast-iron plate and string scale intended to replicate the tone and sound of Mehlin’s horizontal grands. It was one of the more expensive pianos of its day. It’s built like a Rolls Royce, and is a beauty to behold. Its current owner was told it came from an opera house, which is not unlikely.

The piano is 100 percent intact (other than some ivory keytops, which are easy to replace), and everything functions. The hammers and dampers still have life in them. It has some rattles, buzzes, and clicks, most of which I should be able to fix. I may even be able to tighten up the tuning pins enough for the piano to move indoors, but that’s far from certain.

I’m sure it weighs 800+ lbs, so I wouldn’t recommend transporting it anywhere with more than 2-3 steps to negotiate. The good news is that it can simply be rolled onto a low trailer from the garage where it currently resides, and rolled off at the other end. If you arrange to move the piano, I’ll tune and service it for free when it gets to its new home in the Binghamton area. I’m happy to provide advice and logistical support for the move.

If you’re interested, contact me.